A Corbin man, allegedly beaten by a local father and son last year in a dispute over a pistol, is accusing a special prosecutor in charge of the case of attempted to offer his attackers lenient plea agreement without his approval or consultation.
Dalton Brewer, 25, said in an exclusive interview with the News Journal this week that he and his family have made three trips to Jamestown to meet with Commonwealth’s Attorney Matthew B. Leveridge in advance of a jury trial that was scheduled to take place last Thursday. At issue are pending first-degree assault charges against his alleged attackers, Tony Ramey, 47, and his son Perry A. Ramey, 29. The pair was arrested in May 2007 by Corbin Police for showing up at Brewer’s home and demanding the return of a Glock 27 handgun Perry Ramey sold to Brewer about five weeks before. When Brewer wouldn’t return the firearm, the two allegedly forced their way into Brewer’s home and beat him and choked him, pistol-whipped him and then tied a rope around his neck and dragged him out into his driveway and threatened to kill him.
A jury ready the hear the case was dismissed in Whitley Circuit Court last Thursday as Leveridge and defense attorneys informed Special Judge Jerry Winchester a plea agreement had been reached – an agreement Brewer and his family claim they knew nothing about until just two days before the hearing, and a move they vehemently opposed.
Leveridge submitted a deal to Winchester that would allow the Rameys to plead guilty to an amended charge of assault under extreme emotional disturbance, in exchange for five-year jail sentences that would be “diverted.” In essence, as long as the two committed no more crimes in a five-year period, they would serve no time in jail and charges against them would be dismissed.
Winchester rejected the agreement as inappropriate and scheduled a new trial date of January 6, 2009.
That was a relief to Brewer and his family who say they’ve gotten little sympathy from Leveridge, and accuse him of not prosecuting the case aggressively enough.
“He was completely on their side defending them,” Dalton Brewer said. “I think that they [the Rameys] ought to serve a little time in jail, not a whole lot, but a little and pay restitution at least. I’ve got $70,000 plus in medical bills that I’ve had to partially pay for myself.”
everidge was assigned to the case when Whitley County Commonwealth’s Attorney Allen Trimble was removed from the case after defense motions asking he be disallowed as prosecutor. A call to Leveridge’s office seeking comment on the proposed plea agreement was not returned as of press time Tuesday.
“He knew all the time he was going to do this,” said Faye Brewer, Dalton’s grandmother. She was in court when Winchester rejected the plea. “It was a done deal from the beginning. He [Leveridge] didn’t need to see us or talk to us. He knew what he was going to do.”
Billy Brewer, Dalton Brewer’s father, provided the News Journal an audiotaped conversation between he and Leveridge that took place last Tuesday. The two argued over the proposed plea agreement. Leveridge said he felt like convictions against the Rameys would be hard to obtain at trial because Dalton Brewer would not make a “sympathetic victim.”
“Their defense is going to be that your son is a drug dealer and that he is under indictment for drug dealing and dogfighting … he is not going to be the good guy going into this thing,” Leveridge said. “I’m not convinced there is a conviction to be had. In light of those circumstances, I made a judgment call about what I think is a good result. If you disagree with it, I understand completely.”
Dalton Brewer was charged with numerous drug possession and trafficking charges in mid-November 2007 and is scheduled for a jury trial on Jan. 7, 2009. He was indicted by a Laurel County grand jury earlier this year on one count of animal cruelty for allegedly fighting dogs.
He calls both cases “bogus,” and said he suspects the charges in both cases are retaliation by police in order to call his character into question.
“I believe none of it would have ever happened if this wouldn’t have started,” Dalton Brewer said. “We are prosecuting a Whitley County Sheriff’s Deputy and I think they are just protecting each other in every way.”
Shortly after the Ramey’s were arrested, police tried to sort out one of the most puzzling mysteries in the case – whether Tony Ramey was actually a law enforcement officer the day he showed up at Brewer’s home.
Brewer and his family claim Toney Ramey flashed a badge and told Dalton Brewer he was under arrest. An audio recording of the call Brewer’s girlfriend made to police reporting the incident seems to back up the claim. Ramey can be heard in the background saying Brewer is “under arrest” and that he was “resisting.”
Ramey was never charged with impersonating a police officer, something investigators were considering shortly after his arrest. Brewer and his family contend that’s because Ramey was a legitimate Whitley County Sheriff’s Deputy when the alleged assault occurred. Through the help of costly private investigators, Billy Brewer said the family has been able to obtain photocopies of an identification card showing Ramey to be an active Whitley County Sherriff’s Deputy and an Oath of Office signed by Whitley District Judge Cathy Prewitt. He was sworn in as a deputy in 2006, according to the seemingly legitimate documents. Brewer said he was denied access to the documents and told they did not exist for a long time before acquiring them.
Ramey was a Corbin Police Officer from November 1995 to October 1999. After that, he served as a deputy Sheriff under former Whitley County Sheriff Ancil Carter. Carter said recently that he revoked Ramey’s bond and relieved him from his duty as a deputy because of some medications he was taking for back problems.
Current Whitley County Sheriff Lawrence Hodge said Ramey has never been a deputy in his department and that he never authorized him to serve as an officer.
Brewer has filed a civil lawsuit in U.S. District Court in London seeking monetary damages against Ramey and the Whitley County Sheriff’s Department for permanent injuries he claims he suffered from the beating. Brewer walks with a cane and said he often has seizures as a result of his head injury.
Dalton Brewer and his family say they would like a new prosecutor assigned to the criminal case against the Rameys and are concerned it will never be resolved fairly unless changes are made.
“In America, this is not the way things are supposed to happen,” Billy Brewer said. “Thank God Judge Winchester did the just and fair thing on this. We most definitely want someone else. We intend to pursue that.”